I meant to write on this topic yesterday, but I was on a roll with sewing projects & didn’t want to break my groove…
I want to start this post by saying that I do love my mom. I know that she’s got my back if I’m going through a tough spot. I am my mother’s daughter; not only do we look alike and sound alike (the aunts can confirm), but we even have similar types of crazy (which I’m almost convinced is a family trait).
Mom’s been through some tough stuff over the years. She’s the youngest of seven children, and the only one with a heavier body type; She told me once that when her sisters wanted to know if the ice on a pond on their property was thick enough, they’d send her out first. I can’t imagine what that did to her psyche.
She’s a hard worker. Growing up on a dairy farm might have contributed to that; one of her chores was doing the milking twice a day. I know that she’s got multiple college degrees (I think her BA is from AIC), and she was working full time and taking classes. I was born when she was 30, and there’s a picture somewhere of her holding me at her graduation, wearing her cap. Mom’s not afraid of hard work.
She married my dad when they were 20. I think they went to the same high school, and I’m not sure if they ever dated anyone else before they got together. They bought a house shortly afterward, and did some traveling before I was born. I was four when my brother was born, and I actually have memories of that day.
Fast-forward a few years and Mom is working a rotating 12-hour shift; we didn’t see much of her, and Dad stayed home to care for us. Which sounds awful, but it was by her income that we were able to move into my current home. But things weren’t sunshine & roses…
I don’t remember exactly when I realized it, but I’m pretty sure by the time I was 12 I knew something wasn’t right in my parents’ relationship. Things went downhill pretty fast, actually. My folks made their own wine, and indulged in it just about every night. And Mom, I love you, but you can’t hold your alcohol at all.
I have a very distinct memory of waking her up off the couch, and supporting her up the stairs because I was ready to go to bed and didn’t feel right leaving them passed out in the living room.
I also remember the time she was crying on my shoulder because of some emotional hurt… something about the sexual discrimination she faced at work and Dad not giving her any emotional support.
And while I recognize that these are legitimate problems and she was probably an emotional mess, she really should have been seeing a therapist. I don’t think she should have put that on me.
A few years after my parents divorced, my brother & I were visiting her. She’d been drinking, and at the end of the visit (I don’t remember what triggered this) she started talking about how she hadn’t really wanted kids, but she had us in the hopes that it would change our father & improve their marriage. And then she was crying, and we left, and my brother was crying, and I held his hand the whole drive home.
… What do you say to that?
Thankfully she doesn’t drink that much anymore, or at least I don’t encounter her that far gone anymore. So while I love my mom, and I respect what she’s been through, I don’t approve of her coping method. I also have some resentment toward her for doing & saying those things. I grew up too fast. And sometimes over the phone, when I end with, “I love you, Mom,” she doesn’t say it back. That really hurts, especially as she’s really the only one I hear that from. It hurts that sometimes she can’t say that she loves me.
Recently I’ve been noticing how different our worldviews are. I love my mom, but she’s also homophobic, racist, anti-immigrant, and a creationist (anti-science). I don’t understand where this all came from! We weren’t raised that way. If she wants to get support for her past troubles through religion, I’ve got no problem with that. Faith can be a powerful healer. But this is not healing. This is hate. I fear that she’s turned the bad stuff she’s experienced (in her childhood & in her marriage) from the self-hate of alcoholism into hate against other people. ((I think if I call Comcast and block her access to Fox News, that might improve things…)) This makes for really awkward conversations, as if things weren’t awkward enough.
So yeah, I still love my mom, through all this. But man, things have gotten weird over the years.